After 3 1/2 quarters of grueling defensive work, Oakland Mills senior linebacker Brian Howard was rewarded with a chance to carry the football.
The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder made the most of his opportunity, bursting through a hole on the left side of the Scorpions offensive line en route to a 20-yard touchdown. His score with 4:28 left gave No. 7 Oakland Mills a 15-7 win over Howard County League foe Centennial yesterday at Scorpion Field.
"That hole was so big, anyone could have run through it," Howard said. "All of the credit goes to the offensive line."
After watching Quan Davis (16 carries, 98 yards) shoulder the brunt of the work, Howard felt a sense of urgency to give the offensive unit a boost.
"I usually get to run a little more than I did today," Howard said. "I told Coach [Ken Hovet] 'I can run the ball against these guys.' But he waited until the right time."
The winning score was made possible thanks to big blocks from center Bryan Frizzelle and left guard Carl Zacarias. The Scorpions (2-2, 1-0 league) then converted a two-point conversion on a pass from Casey Moffett to Sekou Walker.
On the ensuing series, the Eagles (2-2, 0-1) threatened to send the game into overtime. Quarterback John Webster (11-for-20, 141 yards, one touchdown and one interception) completed five straight passes, and running back Marwan Oweis ran twice for 20 yards -- putting the visitors on Oakland Mills' 8.
After barely missing John Woods in the corner of the end zone, defensive end Kevin Wilkinson jarred the ball loose from Webster, and Gene McGil pounced on the loose ball to end the threat.
The Scorpions' inability to hold onto the ball led to a 7-0 Centennial lead two minutes into the game. Webster connected with Jason Zolak one play after Oakland Mills quarterback Irving bTC Conwell fumbled on a hit by Oweis and George Mitroka.
After a sluggish first half, the Scorpions tied the score at 7 on a 5-yard run by Walker.
"Our running backs did a great job without [leading rusher] Fardan Carter," Hovet said. Carter, nursing a sore ankle, is questionable for Saturday's game against Atholton.
Hovet continued, "We can't play without emotion like we did in the first half and expect to win."
The Scorpions received a huge lift at the end of the third quarter -- preventing the Eagles from scoring after a first-and-goal at the 1. Antiwan Jones dropped Webster for a seven-yard loss, and Conwell broke up a pass. On the next play, William Dodson blocked Adam Chambers' 25-yard field goal attempt.
"You can't get that close and not score," said Centennial coach Ed Holshue. "That gave them the momentum they needed."